The European Commission follows in the footsteps of the United States, which in January prohibited the use of TikTok by employees of the House of Representatives due to misgivings regarding the use that the platform may make of personal data. This is indicated by an email that its workers received this Thursday: “To protect the Commission’s data and its cybersecurity, the Commission’s corporate board of directors has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on their electronic devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission’s mobile device service (for example, if you use Commission applications),” he says. “The measure is necessary due to data protection problems related to the application,” adds the text that EL PAIS has been able to see and has been advanced by Euractiv.
The message that European Commission employees have received warns them that they have until March 15 to uninstall the Chinese application TikTok from their devices. If they have not done so at that time, these “will be considered inappropriate for the corporate environment.” The consequence will be that European officials will not be able to access email, Skype for Business or other similar digital tools. The information has been confirmed at noon by the spokespersons for the Community Executive with a statement that replicates the arguments offered to the workers: “This measure is intended to protect the Commission against threats to cybersecurity and actions that can be used for cyberattacks against the corporate environment of the Commission. The security evolution of other social media platforms will also be constantly reviewed.”
The initiative is similar to the one already adopted by the United States Congress at the beginning of the year and shows the misgivings that applications and technological products from China arouse among Western authorities. They fear that the Asian giant will use these programs as espionage tools. Already in 2020, the then president of the United States, Donald Trump, wanted to ban the use of TikTok in the country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he recommended not downloading the apps unless those who do so want their private information “to end up in the hands of the Communist Party of China.”
TikTok, for its part, considers that the decision is “wrong and based on basic misconceptions.” “We have contacted the Commission to clarify the issue and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million EU citizens who use TikTok every month,” company sources assure this newspaper.
The social network owned by the Chinese technology giant ByteDance is one of the most popular at the moment, especially among young people, who prefer it to Google for searching. Its irruption and its success have caused other already established social networks, such as Instagram, to release features that are similar to TikTok’s proposal: short videos selected by the algorithm.
TikTok’s numbers give you an idea of its influence. It has 1 billion users and was one of the most downloaded apps in the world in 2022. It had more visits than Google and managed to retain users longer than YouTube.
However, the integrity of the social network has been questioned on several occasions. In December, for example, he acknowledged that he was spying on journalists from Forbes that they were working on an investigation about the platform. TikTok, like other social networks, is being investigated in the US for the effects it causes on the mental health of young people.